Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Bennet Sisters

The Independence of
Miss Mary Bennet

by Colleen McCullough

Genre; Fiction/Historical
Publisher; HarperCollins/Australia/2008
Pages; 467
ISBN; 978-0-7322-8722-1

Plot; Ever wonder what the future may have held for the Bennet sisters after Jane Austen had finished putting pen to paper...

Would Darcy and Lizzie's marriage stay as passionate as it was in the beginning, or would Darcy's inability to show emotion be a hurdle?
Would Jane and Mr Bingley stay as innocently happy once the children had begun to flood in?
Would Lydia stay as naive and quick to pounce as she grew older?
Would Kitty remain a giggling mess of impropriety?
And, would Mary continue to be the black sheep?

My Thoughts; How can you not love a book about Austen's favorite sisters that ends with, "circumcised!" Jane may turn over in her grave with that one, but I can whole-heartedly say I loved every moment of this book!

As you read this book you think to yourself at times, "Oh, Ms Austen would have loved that" and at other times you think, "Oh, glad she isn't around to read that bit". That is the brilliance of this book, it takes a classic and appropriates it to our modern tastes.

I think I can honestly add this title to my top ten reads. There was not one moment while reading this book that I wasn't entertained or enthralled. McCullough has taken much loved characters and flown them to a new level of appreciation.

After reading Pride and Prejudice I often thought up what may have happened to the characters once Austen had left them. I always imagined that there would be dramas in the Darcy marriage and that the Bingley marriage would be a fairly cordial one, for the most part, but McCullough's imagination has taken them much further that I ever could have thought up.

I am a thinker. A quarter of the way into any book and I think I have it fairly well worked out, sometimes I am right, sometimes not. This book kept me guessing. I continued an Austen line of thought, imagining marriage proposals, propriety and impropriety, meddlesome characters playing cupid.. You can imagine my surprise, and pleasure, as I read about hidden treasure, child slavery, highwaymen.

Now, don't let this put you off, I do not mean to make it sound at all melodramatic. I am quite comfortable saying that I believe any fan of the Austen classics will enjoy this story.

The characters are just as one may imagine them to be, and so much more. McCullough has really shaped these characters well, just as she has delved in the relationships, be them marriages or siblings, to give them so much depth.

One thing I will say, it was a little hard to get used to Mr Darcy being referred to as Fitz. Every time the name Fitz was mentioned I would think, "who.. oh that's right, Mr Darcy". Maybe that is borne from years of swooning over the Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, which I must admit, wasn't too "swoony" in this one.

Would Austen liked it? Well.. I think she would like how the characters have developed, she may be a little frightened by some of the language and themes, but all in all I believe she would enjoy it.

I wonder, if she had written a sequel, where she would have taken the Bennet girls? Any thoughts?

My recommendation; If you enjoyed the original, I believe you will enjoy this. If you have seen the movies, I believe you will enjoy this. If you have never read or seen Pride and Prejudice, I believe you will enjoy this. Give it a go!

Happy Reading!

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